LME to Trade Cobalt and Molybdenum Futures

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Commodities, Sourcing Strategies

The LME confirmed that the exchange has decided to launch cobalt and molybdenum contracts in the second half of 2009. No details have been released yet by the LME as to the contract size or delivery points but the news has been well received by the investment community who see the development as adding liquidity and transparency to the markets for these two very important alloying elements. Both metals have gone through substantial price increases along with the general commodity boom but have held onto their gains better than nickel and copper the two primary metals from which cobalt and molybdenum respectively are produced as by-products. Prices have been supported largely due to demand for speciality steel grades even though general stainless steels have been falling in price and demand. 75% of molybdenum is used in the production of high grade stainless steels for the oil and gas industries. Cobalt is used more in aircraft parts, particularly engine components and in batteries for mobile devices from ipods to laptops. Though the producers have generally welcomed the move saying it would create a clear benchmark for pricing, one trader commented that he thought it would actually add to volatility “A big percentage of the (cobalt) market would be in the hands of the hedge funds, I can’t see how consumers would benefit.” He may have a point.

–Stuart Burns

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